'Edna' by Robert Henri

“As Antigone.” A New Poem by Jennifer Franklin

From Her New Collection If Some God Shakes Your House

March 24, 2023  By Jennifer Franklin

I’m all done being nice.
It hasn’t gotten me anywhere.

Since I was young, I gave
everything away—milk

money, homework, adoration.
Everyone wanted to make me

into a small version of herself—
teaching me weaving, writing,

wiles. All I wanted was love—
picked a bouquet of dandelions

and handed it to my mother.
When she turned her mouth

into a little o and called the tight
yellow suns weeds, my body

became a weight I wanted
to let go. I thought of all

the lessons I memorized
to keep me still, the colors

I couldn’t wear because
they clashed with my red hair,

all the rules of modesty
so men would not look at me

with hunger. The only thing
I owned was a jar I was given,

like Pandora, as a girl. Before I
unlatched the lid, I had already lost

everything—faith, health,
my child. I refused to watch

what flew out. But something
hard as lapis, real as want,
wrenched my wrist right back
so hope remained, writhing

alone at the bottom of the jar
like dirty water after dead

tulips are discarded—
yellow stamens dropping

pollen to the floor. Silent,
it watched me for years.

Months at a time, I forgot
it was there. But when it’s

trapped like that, it grows
so large, nothing can quell it.

No one thanks me for what
I have done. But I don’t need

praise anymore. I turned
weeds into flowers.


If Some God Shakes Your House

Excerpted from If Some God Shakes Your House by Jennifer Franklin. Used with permission of the publisher, Four Way Books. Copyright 2023 by Jennifer Franklin.

Jennifer Franklin
Jennifer Franklin
Jennifer Franklin holds degrees in poetry from Brown University and Columbia University School of the Arts. She has published three collections including No Small Gift and If Some God Shakes Your House. A recent recipient of both a CRCF Literature Grant and a City Artist Corps NYFA grant for poetry, she lives in New York City. Her work has been published in American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Bennington Review, Blackbird, Boston Review, Gettysburg Review, Guernica, JAMA, The Nation, Paris Review, “poem-a-day” on poets.org, Prairie Schooner, and Rhino. Her poem, “Memento Mori: Pistachios,” was featured in Poetry Society of America’s Poetry in Motion, Rhode Island in February 2021. For the past ten years, she has taught manuscript revision at the Hudson Valley Writers Center where she serves as Program Director. She also teaches in the MFA Program at Manhattanville College. For more about Franklin’s poetry, visit jenniferfranklinpoet.com.

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